Skellerup is a 105-year-old Christchurch-based manufacturer of industrial and agricultural rubber products. Their new purpose built Development and Manufacturing facility at Wigram Business Park in Christchurch was custom designed and built by Calder Stewart to optimise the needs of Skellerup’s manufacturing processes, warehouse and distribution operations, and the integration of their design and product development functions.

The facility is comprised of five areas: distribution centre, moulding hall and engineering and amenities, industrial hall/raw material warehouse, office and civil works.

An incredible 182,000+ man-hours went into this project and the massive 18,900m2 building result is functional, practical and sustainable, providing room for growth into the future.

Interestingly, the original brief was to build only a factory shell with some tolerance to accommodate Skellerup’s manufacturing machinery. However, as the project got underway, it was decided to integrate base build and fit-out. This meant we were able to create a design that provided the client with much greater efficiencies in terms of installation.

Also part of the project brief was to ‘future-proof’ the building design in terms of allowing for extra capacity for future expansion. This building works very well for its intended purpose and has exceeded client expectations. Major gains in efficiency have been seen through a decrease of internal movement of people and product around the site as well as operational cost efficiencies such as gains in production capacity. Future savings are also likely.

Key features that define the complexity and success of this project include the massive processing tower and changes to the timeline and programme. The processing tower had to be built tough enough to handle the extreme vibrations that come from mixing rubber polymers. On top of that, as plant and equipment was so large and heavy (and some of it so old it did not have drawings) it needed to be installed as construction was taking place. Allowing for this was a critical aspect of the design phase so scanning technology was used to provide a 3D image of the plant. Base build design was layered with the internal plant fit-out design and clash detection and analysis performed.

Timelines also required expert management. Skellerup is a 24/7 operation and needed to have the new factory operational before vacating the old one in order to test and validate the rubber prior to mass production. There was also the pressure of an upcoming lease termination on temporary premises they were using. Through excellent teamwork and communication with partners and subcontractors, we were able to get the client into one end of the building early while the rest was still under construction. We also finished the building ahead of the intended programme.

The physical quality of the Skellerup building is second to none. Durability and low maintenance was an important part of this project so precast and steel were chosen. Our unique integrated supply chain includes the manufacturing of a significant portion of the building materials, offering much greater quality assurance, guaranteed supply and on-time delivery.

More than physical quality though, this building is an exemplar of quality in design. Rework and potential errors were kept to a minimum through a meticulous design process. Our quality design and shop drawings for precast and structural steel and an X-steel model produced by their structural engineering partners allowed for a seamless process from fabrication right through to assembly.